Hunter Hamster owner Andrey Kovalishin explains why the programming language is the future of mobile games development
In the last couple of years there has been a lot of debate about the power and potential of HTML5 as a serious platform for mobile games, but as things stand this is somewhat unproven. That hasn't stopped us, however, from embracing it, for a few very good reasons.
We have just embarked on the making of our flagship title Snail Bob as a HTML5 offering. This game, our baby, is one we started making in 2010 as a casual Flash game for browsers. Now the franchise has expanded beyond Flash and more recently native mobile releases to developing HTML5 versions.
Why? Because HTML5 represents an opportunity for developers that we think is just too good to pass up.
When started out developing Snail Bob we had no specific plan. Instead we let a free flow of creativity lead us as we designed the game. It has turned out that our random innovation, creativity and ideas has endeared players and built fans allowing for us to build a franchise. But for us as developers, we have many obstacles to overcome and decisions to make when it comes to further development.
When building Snail Bob as a franchise, we needed to ensure we were able to balance the cost and time of development with ensuring players were treated to the quality of gameplay they'd become accustomed to. Coupled with being able to build new audiences and reach more players, ensuring playability of our games from all the various devices players use to access them became imperitive.
HTML5 represents an opportunity for developers we think is just too good to pass up.
This year Snail Bob launched on iOS, but looking ahead, HTML5 will offer a more universal solution, taking the time and hassle out of cross platform development as the 'develop once' solution for all platforms and that is the thing we are really keen to explore.
There are still many questions about whether HTML5 is a viable alternative to native development for mobile gaming but aside from the obvious debate over which platforms to develop for, there are a couple of clear facts that affect mobile developers.
Firstly, that to work on both platforms – Android and iOS – requires developers to be compatible with different operating systems and develop under rules and instruction of the companies behind them. Secondly, competition for discoverability in the very crowded apps stores is fierce and only set to get worse.
HTML5 does offer an alternative to all of this. It allows development on a non-proprietary and familiar technology that supports multimedia like videos and animation with great UI capabilities and gestures such as swiping, tapping, dragging, and dropping.
It's built to support mobile devices without the need to create and support different apps and no marketing restrictions in the shape of app stores.
It's parallel to single platform development, freeing us up to do what we love: coming up with new, exciting and innovative game mechanics for the players, as opposed to having to develop various iterations for platforms and constantly re-develop for OS updates.
We believe that the key to success through multiple platform entry points for our games in order to access the mass audiences, like ones held by our publishing partner Spil Games.
We've been working with Spil on the browser iterations of our games since 2010 and, in this time, have enjoyed open access to its 180 million monthly active users. As a result, Snail Bob boasts more than 600 million play sessions.
If you're an indie developer and you want to give your game the best chance of reaching mass market audiences, it's a no brainer to dip your toes into HTML5.
The decision for us to support HTML5 versions of Snail Bob was made easier due to the fact that Spil Games truly supports the development of HTML5 games and offered us unparalleled help, support and financial backing.
Ultimately, as an indie developer we want to be able to explore all avenues and approaches that will get our game to the right audiences and revenue potentials without having to risk what we currently have; something Spil Games is offering us.
At the moment we are very much at the exploratory stages and are by no means downing tools on other development platforms but we feel as we are lucky enough to have the option to investigate HTML5 development with Spil Games, and the freedom of development without complication this offers us, coupled with the marketing power and mass audiences it brings, we would be foolish to pass it up.
In our minds, if you're an indie developer and you want to give yourselves and your game the best chance of reaching mass market audiences, to make it as accessible as possible, as cross-platform as possible and as easy to develop as possible, it's a no brainer to dip your toes into HTML5 development.
We are really excited about the future of Snail Bob and would love to see more indie developers exploring the options too.